Some More T S Eliot

This time, here are the opening lines of Journey of the Magi, which has the honour of being the first poem I read that really touched me and stayed with me. I read other poems in my high school English classes, but this one haunted me. The language is beautiful and the meaning or meanings stayed teasingly out of reach despite the best efforts of my English teacher to wrestle it into submission.

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

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